The passion for learning is not something you have to inspire kids to have; it’s something you have to keep from extinguishing.

Joe Bowyer

Imagine That

Let me share with you something wild
Imagine a school for the whole child

From academics to social success to well being
Imagine a school that fosters a love of reading

Laptops, Cell Phones, Web 2.0 Applications, oh how cool
Imagine all the children always being motivated in school

Boring Lectures, Over-testing, Skill and Drill no more
Imagine children understanding what they are learning for

By Jacob Gutnicki

What is learning?  Sounds like a fairly broad and not particularly new question.  I have been an educator for almost 12 years now and I still keep coming back to this same question.  What is learning and how do we gauge it?

I shared a beautiful experience with my youngest daughter this week.  She came bounding into the house after a day at school eager to show me her magic math tricks.  We sat down and she proceeded to teach me subtraction.  She initially demonstrated her understanding through two digit numbers, then three, four and finally five.  She felt so proud of herself and we spent almost an hour “doing magic.”  Once she was in bed I took a few minutes and emailed her teacher to thank her for inspiring my child and Mathematics such a joy.  Her response amazed me.  My daughters teacher had not taught this particular skill yet.

The next day I had a chat to Claudia and asked her how she knew how to do the sums.  Her response really interested me.  She told me that she worked it out!  Claudia explained that it id easy to take 3 away from 5.  It doesn’t matter how many other numbers there are as long as the big number is on the top.

Why am I sharing this?  I really feel that we as educators we sometimes forget or lose sight of what our job is.  We get loaded down with all the other stuff that is part and parcel of teaching and sometimes we forget the absolute joy of that comes with sharing the learning experience with a child.


My kids are known as TCK kids – Third Culture Kids.  That means they are kids who are living in a culture that is not the one they were born to.  This group of kids is contstantly on the increase and of late there has been much research into this.  Here are some findings of the latest research.

Dr. David Pollock and Dr. Michael Gerner explain the advantages and disadvantages for Third Culture Kids (Seoul Foreign School Web Article). As mentioned earlier we believe that the advantages and disadvantages for Third Culture Kids/Global Nomads also apply to immigrants, the disabled, African Americans, Native Americans, and anyone who has grown up in a cross cultural context.

Global nomads are very good mediators. Whenever TCKs move into another culture, they become very good, objective observers. They’re like cultural sponges. Those skills translate into ideal requirements for combating racism and advancing social and refugee work.
—Norma McCaig, El Paso Times

In this section when we speak of Third Culture Kids/Global Nomads we are referring to all of these groups.

1. Linguistic ability – Many TCKs/Global Nomads are conversant in another language or have heightened interest and ability to learn a new language. In addition, the deaf child can sign, and African American and Native American children may have their own dialect or language.

2. Cross-cultural skills – most TCKs/Global Nomads have a high acceptance level of differences. They see other cultures as different, but not necessarily better or worse than their own. Many have the ability to incorporate the best characteristics of the cultures they have experienced.

“Third Culture Kids’ role is to help the world transcend itself. We challenge outdated concepts of identity.”- Brice Royer

3. High Flexibility – TCKs/Global Nomads are usually flexible, adapting well to new situations and new environments. They tend to escape cultural single-mindedness and tend to be less dogmatic and authoritarian than their counterparts back home. Because of this TCKs/Global Nomads are usually good teachers and role models and able to generate new perspectives and thinking-skills in their listeners.

4. Three dimensional world view – TCKs/Global Nomads tend to view the world as a global entity inhabited by “real” people with the same basic human needs. Their realization provides them with a much greater potential for leadership roles.
5. Maturity – In some instances, TCKs/Global Nomads are more mature than their “mono-culture” counterparts. For example, TCKs/Global Nomads routinely deal with international travel, foreign currency, a variety of food choices, and sometimes international crisis/unrest as part of their normal lifestyle. They may actually thrive in their ability to be open and ready for change. They may also be socially mature, being able to interact comfortably with people of all ages and cultures. TCKs/Global Nomads are people who can generally rely on themselves to think clearly and act appropriately. Immigrants, the disabled, African American and Native American children often have to face real hardships and perhaps grow up faster than what might be considered ideal in a perfect world. They understand the need to work and struggle for what they want.
6. Family closeness – Because Third Culture family members have shared the experience of adjusting to a new culture, they usually describe themselves as having close family ties. Also, disabled people often need to rely on family to compensate for their particular handicap.
7. International orientation – TCKs/Global Nomads often describe themselves as liking to travel, and indicate a preference for a career with an international orientation. All these abilities, properly recognized and nurtured, can open doors to particular career choices that foster the peaceful bridging of cultures

What strengths might TCKs possess? Based on the results of a long-term study of students in an international school in Japan, Willis (1994) suggests that:

TCKs who return overseas as teachers often have the greatest impact. They have walked the same path. They can tell their students: ‘I went back to the States, I went through college, and I’m back again. I want to tell you that I’m glad I’m a third-culture kid. And this is the way I felt and these are the things I went through and here are some of the things you need to be prepared for.’
—David Pollack, Trans World Radio

8. TCKs exhibit characteristics of a transcultural / transnational identitythat is needed for the world to transcend untranationalism and ethnocentrism.

9. TCKs create community from diversity.

He concludes that these students have the skills needs to create community from diversity. Gerner et al. (1992) also noted positive characteristics of TCKs in two large international schools.

10. Culturally accepting
In their study, TCKs reported having a high level of interest in travel and learning languages, and they rated themselves as being culturally accepting and having developed a high level of acceptance of diversity.

11. More flexible, self-confident and curious
In addition, Iwama (1990) found that in comparison of Japanese TCKs with students who have lived only in Japan, the TCKs were more self-confident, had more flexible minds, were more active and curious, and had a higher bilingual ability. He noted that these students can “swim in two cultural oceans.”

12.Expressing themselves in more than one culture.

Because of their varied experiences, the students can see life in terms greater than one cultural boundary and can explain and express themselves in more than one culture.


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